In recent years, medications to treat HIV have made a huge impact in changing the course of the disease. HIV positive patients can currently live long, full lives by taking medications and following up with their healthcare team regularly. However, there is still no cure for HIV, and nearly 500 people are newly diagnosed as HIV+ every year in Washington State, most of these in King County.1
While risk-reducing behavior is the cornerstone of HIV prevention, the healthcare and research community has been constantly searching for better ways to further reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Unfortunately, the development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection has so far been unsuccessful. Recent studies have discovered that it is possible for high-risk individuals to reduce the risk of contracting HIV up to 92% by taking a once-daily medication, Truvada®, along with risk-reducing lifestyle modifications and regular testing.2 This process is collectively known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP.
PrEP involves many different factors:
- Commitment to taking a single pill every day. If the medication is not taken daily, it is possible for the patient to contract HIV that is resistant to the medications in Truvada®.
- Basic health screening to ensure the medication will be safe and effective. A doctor or pharmacist will need to check the patient’s HIV status and other lab tests (kidney function, list other tests here) every 3 months.
- Continuing risk-reducing behaviors. Condom use and refraining from needle sharing is also very important. Taking medication daily helps to further decrease the risk of contracting HIV, but should not be thought of as an alternative to risk reducing behaviors. 3
To increase access to PrEP in our community, Kelley-Ross pharmacists have developed a pharmacy-based PrEP program, One-Step PrEP®. This program allows patients to receive screening, lab tests, education, and medication at Kelley-Ross Pharmacy in as little as a single visit every three months. This innovative pharmacy program seeks to build upon the clinical services provided by Kelley-Ross pharmacists, and further increase access to an effective public health service to reduce HIV infections.
For more information about our new One-Step PrEP® program, click here.
Worried about insurance coverage? While most insurance plans cover PrEP, the Washington State Department of Health has recognized this public health opportunity and established the PrEP Drug Assistance Program (PrEP DAP). For more information on this, click here.
Written by Adrian Hughes, PharmD Candidate, 2015
- <a href="https://www.aids web collaboration software.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/reduce-your-risk/pre-exposure-prophylaxis/”>https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/reduce-your-risk/pre-exposure-prophylaxis/